Lucien Monod (1867-?) was a French painter and graphic artist. He studied at the Julian Academy in Paris. He was often inspired by motifs taken from literature or mythology. He especially liked the work of English writers*. In “Sir Galahad” he immortalized one of the Celtic knight themes that interested him. Galahad is the hero of King Arthur’s adventures and the Knights of the Round Table, he is the son of Lancelot and Elaine, the sorceress who guards the Holy Grail. He was the only knight who was able to find the Christ’s chalice. During the search for the legendary vessel, Sir Galahad experiences the vision described in Alfred Tennyson’s poem “Sir Galahad” from 1842. When darkness falls and the sun in the sky seems to disappear beyond the horizon, the knight’s eyes are met with a bright glow illuminating the forest engulfed in darkness. Galahad seems to hear a voice calling him. He sees the silhouettes of three angels guarding the holy chalice**.
Description of the painting:
Monod illustrates a scene that most likely precedes the described vision. The presentation immersed in ocher and illuminated with a golden halo shows the moment just before dusk. The knight has stopped to catch his breath. The white horse, which is traversing the unknown stretches, bowed his head to graze**. They stopped on a hill. Galahad turns his head, admiring the view of the setting sun from the slope. “On a lonely glade, surrounded by pines, a virgin knight came to rest a little after a long and hard search for the holy emblem. He is on a horse: his white horse, tired, stretches his neck to a tuft of grass; the son of Lancelot is covered in armor, he only took off his helmet, showing a young, honest face; he breathes in the balsam aroma, cold and silence. We breathe with him […]” ****.